F is for Fern

For the letter F in the revised A to Z Challenge my choice is not a flowering plant.  Instead I have made a photographic record of the growth of some ferns in our garden.

There are many varieties of fern.  We have never planted any in our garden, but have two or three different species.  They propagate by wind-borne spores and thrive in cool damp places.  The spores grow on the underside of the leaves.

Fern 7 May
7 May 2015
Fern 13 May
13 May 2015

In winter ferns look dead.  All that is  visible above ground is a brown lump at the base of an established fern.  As spring advances some green appears.  The leaves are curled up at first.  They grow and uncurl by stages until they are fully grown.

Fern 3 June
3 June 2015

I began taking photos of one plant early in May.  The dates are in the captions for the pictures.  It is very common in this area.  By the beginning of June the fern was so large that the sandstone rock near it was completely hidden.

The second species is known as a hart’s tongue fern.  A hart is a male roe deer (according to the compiler of a crossword I solved recently).  It is a word which is going out of fashion.  Where the Authorised Version of the Bible used hart in Psalm 42, modern versions use deer.  I haven’t looked at the shape of a deer’s tongue, but no doubt hundreds of years ago a country person, perhaps a game-keeper, made a comparison and named the fern accordingly.

Hart's tongue fern
Hart’s tongue fern

There are flowers beginning with F.  First of all a forget-me-not flowered.  Many people regard these as weeds.  They are certainly wild flowers.  Their tiny flowers may be blue or pink.  We decided not to cultivate it.

Another wild flower which we do encourage is the foxglove.  These may be pink or white.  They are biennials.  It takes a seed until the second year to produce flowers.  The flowers grow on a tall stem.  It is too early for this year’s flowers.  They are helpful to insects including bees, which climb inside the bell-shaped flowers..